Bridging Institutions to Cross the Quantitative/Qualitative Divide
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Considering qualitative and quantitative student response data and comparing those data cross-institutionally improves writing center policies locally and helps define broader objectives of the writing center as a campus institution. As writing center practitioners, it can be difficult to determine whether we should focus our research and assessment energies on gathering quantitative or qualitative data. Few of us are trained as “numbers people,” yet most of us regularly collect masses of quantitative data in the form of user statistics, exit surveys measuring student satisfaction, and demographic information about the writers who use our centers. Still, qualitative data often feels like the best illustration of our pedagogy to us, our tutors, and our faculty and administrators. When we do collect qualitative data, it frequently reflects recurrent themes in our scholarship. Even if our qualitative data manifests cross-institutional similarities, it is difficult to compare across different schools.  Convinced that both quantitative and qualitative feedback is essential to effective assessment of writing center work, we - three very different writing center practitioners from three very different institutions - set out to create a collaborative research project that would allow us to harness the strengths of both quantitative and qualitative methods.